UPDATE: CNN’s Rachel Nichols offered a statement regarding the drama surrounding the credentials. Here it is:
“After asking tough questions of Floyd Mayweather on my program, I was not offered press credentials to cover tonight’s fight. In an email dated April 23, I was told I would only be credentialed for the run-up events through the week, but in bold, italic letters the email stated “you do not have any access Saturday to any services or events.” A CNN producer revisited the issue with the Mayweather camp on April 29, confirming to Mayweather’s publicist that I would be in Las Vegas, and the publicist replied that I would still be denied a fight night credential. I was told the same thing when I arrived at the credential office in person on May 1, by two separate officials, in front of several other people. It doesn’t surprise me that now, after facing significant backlash, the Mayweather camp has reversed its position. But despite this, and other outside parties generously offering me their seats, I will not attend the fight. I will also not let fear of retaliation prevent me from asking the tough questions the public deserves answers to in the future.”
Drama, drama, you bet yer mama..
You thought we’d head to the home stretch and just coast to the finish line with a grin on face, in a euphoric daze?
This is boxing, theatre of the unexpected. You best expect drama to rear up at any time, it’s only prudent…
ESPN’s Michelle Beadle Tweeted this, this morning:
I, along with @Rachel__Nichols, have been banned from the MGM Grand Arena for the fight tonight by the Mayweather camp. #TheFightGame
And we saw this Tweet from CNN reporter Rachel Nichols:
No fight for me or @MichelleDBeadle. Mayweather’s team told my producer the camp was blocking my credential.
Then the worm turned again…
Mayweather publicist Kelly Swanson took to Twitter and said both have creds to watch the card.
Kelly Swanson ?@kellyswanson1
No one including ME banned @Rachel__Nichols from covering the fight. She is already credentialed. #Facts
She followed with: Kelly Swanson ?@kellyswanson1
And @MichelleDBeadle isn’t even on the press list. She’s credentialed through @HBOboxing. Yes credentialed. #Fact#2
My take: I was surprised when it appeared they were barred. Nichols went hard at Mayweather in an interview before his last fight and apparently some lingering animus had resulted in a move by, I presumed, Team Mayweather, to offer payback. Beadle is unafraid, is prone to taking to Twitter to offer her stance on issues which could be termed delicate, such as when discussing Mayweathers’ criminal history. I thought, and she thought, some of that candid talk was noted, and was reacted to. I was but of course, as a journalist, as the first VP of the Boxing Writers Association of America, not pleased by the situation when it seemed they were barred.
Dissenting voices are a fact of life when one is a public figure, and of course, this being a “free country” the powers that be are free to not offer the courtesy of a credential to watch the fight. And some would argue that neither of those people are “boxing media” anyway..But in the end, that move could have been seen as a petty one, and would I think have spoken more to the decision makers or maker who chose to ban the reporters, than anyone else.
I reached out to a spokesman for Team Mayweather to get clarification. I also reached out to reps for CNN, and ESPN, and HBO, as Beadle does work for Jim Lampley’s “The Fight Game.” Lampley told me he knew what the rest of the Twitersphere knew and would decipher the matter in coming days.
UPDATE: An ESPN spokesperson gave me this statement: “Michelle’s credential to the fight was not an ESPN credential. It was for her work with HBO.”